Amarnath attack: Govt, BJP feel heat from within as well as opposition


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The government and the BJP came under intense criticism not just from the opposition but also from within the party as well as RSS-affiliated groups like the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) following the killing of Amarnath yatra pilgrims by the militants on Monday.

VHP leader Pravin Togadia openly questioned the BJP for being in the coalition government despite the Peoples Democratic Party’s failure in keeping a check on terrorism.

He also appealed to the Modi government to appoint a full-time defence minister. Currently, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been holding the charge of defence since Manohar Parrikar quit to become chief minister of Goa in March this year. Earlier in the day, the opposition too made a similar demand, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi should appoint a full-fledged minister for the portfolio.

Without mincing words, Togadia, who represents the hardline RSS-VHP line, demanded the dismissal of the PDP-BJP government in the state, saying it was time to impose "Army rule" in Jammu and Kashmir to deal with the terrorists.

Even as Home Minister Rajnath Singh praised all sections of the Kashmir valley for uniting to condemn the killing of pilgrims, Tagodia blamed the local people for "supporting terrorists" and calling them "Pakistani agents." He said they should be dealt with an iron hand.

"We condemn the attack in strong words. The government is saying that the vehicle was not registered (with Amarnath Shrine Board). It is a lie. The government has failed to provide proper security to Hindu pilgrims. It should be sacked immediately," he said.

Within the BJP too, there were murmurs about the apparent lapse of security procedures. There was also criticism of the authorities for failing to act on intelligence reports. While some BJP functionaries faulted the pilgrims who were travelling beyond the permitted time of 7 pm, others said there was indeed a security failure, a point which was conceded by Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Kumar Singh.

Many party leaders took note of reports about a specific input by intelligence agencies last month that the militants will attack the tourists visiting the state to take part in the holy yatra during the month of Shravan. They pointed to a letter dated June 25, signed by IGI Kashmir Zone, which clearly spells out the intelligence warning of terrorists targetting the Amarnath Yatra.

The letter was sent to IG CRPF Operations Kashmir, IG Administration CRPF Srinagar, Headquarters 15 Corps. BB Srinagar and All Range DIsG of K/Zone.

The letter said the terrorists were planning to kill 150 pilgrims and around 100 police officials, which militants believe will result in a big outbreak of communal tension across the country.

But the government’s resolve to pursue a hardline to bring the situation under control was articulated by a top BJP functionary. "I just want to say one thing that perpetrators of terror will be punished. The last terrorist in Valley will be neutralised. This is our determination, nobody will get away after committing such a heinous crime," said BJP general secretary Ram Madhav.

Madhav said the security forces were indeed in complete control of the situation and terrorists’ nefarious designs to disrupt peace in the state of J&K will never succeed. “Security forces are completely in control, they have been able to stave off hundreds of terror attempts, terrorists need to succeed just once to display their ugly designs,” he added.

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